A cyclonic gyre in an ice-covered lake

Alexander L. Forrest, Bernard E. Laval, Roger Pieters and Darlene S. S. Lim

Limnol. Oceanogr., 58(1), 2013, 363-375 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2013.58.1.0363

ABSTRACT: Observations of a cyclonic gyre in an ice-covered, midsize (< 5 km2), temperate lake are presented. Horizontal and vertical measurements of temperature and electrical conductivity measurements were collected using a conductivity–temperature–depth logger mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle and additional instrumentation. These measurements revealed a cylindrical density anomaly with a radius of ~110 m extending from the surface to ~14 m depth. The observed radius is smaller than the internal Rossby radius of deformation (~ 200 m), which suggests a cyclogeostrophic balance between centripetal, Coriolis, and pressure forces. The maximum azimuthal velocity, calculated assuming this balance, was ∼ 2.1 cm s−1 at 6–8 m depth. The Rossby number associated with this velocity was 1.7; this is consistent with the cyclogeostrophic assumption (i.e., Rossby number > 1) and nearly twice that of similar under-ice eddies in the Arctic Ocean. The estimated Ekman spin-down timescale is 1.5–15 d, but despite this, the gyre appeared to be relatively unchanged over 6 d of field observations. This persistence implies the gyre was forced over the course of the field study; however, the source of the forcing is unknown. Horizontal temperature transects at and below the bottom of the gyre revealed coherent temperature fluctuations suggestive of vertical transport associated with the gyre.

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